Jingzhou Historical and Cultural City Area reminds tourists of the history and culture of the Chinese people with its several museums and historic architecture. There are many historic temples dating back to the Tan Dynasty or earlier. However, there are many nearby natural attractions to spice your tour, as well as new architecture that make the area look quite modern.
The Jingzhou city wall is considered special and attracts a lot of tourists each year, in addition to the city's old, beautiful, cultural and traditional architecture. The city is itself one of the most important cultural centers in the country, with many relics and artifacts.
To start with, the Jingzhou Ancient City has well-preserved ancient city walls that have been destroyed and rebuilt several times through the city's history. The existing wall was built at the beginning of the Qing Dynasty. The length of the ancient wall is 10.5 kilometers, and it is about 8.8 meters in height.
Originally, there was six ancient city gates all around the city including the East Gate, the small East Gate (also known as the Gong'an gate), the North Gate, the small North gate, the West Gate, and the South gates.
Each gate had a tower and "double insurance", that is, two separate doors that could be locked in the front and at the back. The idea was to trap the enemy in the space between these doors. In the walls, hidden spaces were built where troops could hide.
A large number has been unearthed from the area around the Jingzhou Ancient City. Among all the ancient articles, those regarded national treasures are the Corpse of the Western Han Dynasty (a well preserved corpse), Silk of the Warring States Period, and the Sword of Gou Jian (the King of Yue).
Apart from the historic features at the Qu Yuan Ci Temple that was built in the Tang Dynasty and other historic temples and museums such as the Jingzhou Museum and City Wall Museum built during the Song Dynasty, there are underground tombs to tour.
Despite the fact that the city has many outstanding olden man-made features, it has an admirable natural beauty with features such as in the Jing Jiang Dike Scenic Area along Yangzi River, the beautiful Longevity Garden, and others such as the Goddess of Mercy Rock.
On the first day of your tour, go to the long-distance bus station and take bus number 15, 12, 19 or 101 to the old city wall. After arrival, you can rent a bike nearby the East Gate beginning from 7 yuan per hour to 50 yuan per day, and cycle around the city wall. Alternatively, you can choose to explore the city through its various gates.
The wall has many cultural relics, stone carvings and inscribed stone tablets, and a beautiful historical architecture. It is 7.2 to 8.8 meters high and about 9.3 to 10.5 kilometers around and thus the fourth largest existing city wall in the country. It would take about four to five days to explore the major sites and more days to explore them exhaustively.
Entry through the South Gate will cost you only 2 yuan, the West Gate 4 yuan, the East Gate 15 yuan, the North Gate 7 yuan and North Gate 5 yuan.
Start with the New East Gate (Xin Dong Men) [新东门] where most of the city traffic comes through, each has a separate wall enclosure, known as as a barbican or jar town (weng cheng).
In the afternoon, take bus number 15 to access the Old East Gate (Lao Dong Men) [老东门]. Most traffic meets the city via the New East Gate (Xin Dong Men) [新东门] and the first historic gate to see is The Old East Gate. Most important attraction here is the Bin Yang Tower (Bin Yang Lou) [宾阳楼] on top of the inner gate. It is a two-story wooden pavilion with upturned roof eaves and red pillars.
The arrow East-West lane of Zhang Ju Zheng Jie [张居正街] has traditional style souvenir shops from where you can buy arts, craft and cultural products.
The Small East Gate (Xiao Dong Men) [小东门] next to the granite statute of Qu Yuan [屈原] is the Nine Dragon Pool Park (Jiu Long Yuan Gongyuan) [九龙渊公园] from where you can stand and watch the beauty of the impressive fortifications of the small east gate- blockhouses, stone terraces, gates and battlements.
Inside the New East Gate (Xin Dong Men) [新东门] is the The Forest of Stele (Jingzhou Bei Lin) [荆州碑林], which is a complex of pavilions grouped around a green garden. It displays a stone table which contain inscriptions about the city's history.
The Xuan Miaoguan Taoist temple (Yuan Miao Taoist temple) is accessible via the small East gate, but you can take bus number 16 and 19 if entering through other gates.
Take bus number 16 or 18 to access the Big North Gate (Da Bei Men) [大北门]. It is termed as the most impressive gate. It has two-story wooden gate tower on top of the inner gate. The tower has upturned roof eaves and red pillars known as the Chao Zong Lou [朝宗楼]. Inside the gate is the courtyard of the weng cheng [瓮城] barbican.
On the second day of your tour, take bus number 14, 19, 21, 33, or 101 to go to the West Gate and West of the Jingzhong Road (Jing Zhong Lu) [荆中路] of the Jingzhou Museum, which has over 100, 000 genuine historic artifacts. These include a well maintained a well-preserved Han Dynasty mummy. It also exhibits artefacts unearthed from the Chu tombs.
You can also buy books written about the history of the city, which are sold from the small gift shop in the museum. It is free to enter and closed on Monday. The city wall museum exhibits 200 different kinds of bricks that date back to the Song Dynasty (Song Dai) [宋代] (960-1279) and a memorial to the Zhang Juzheng [张居正] (1525-1582).
In the afternoon of the second or third day of your tour, take bus no. 14 or 15 bus to the Zhanghua temple on the western slopes of the small gate, which was built during the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368). It was built at the base of the Zhanghuatai Palace, a Xanadu of the emperor in the Chu Dynasty (540-529 B.C.). You pay 20 yuan as the entrance fee.
Some of other temples to visit in the cultural area include the three Taoist temples (Dao Guan)[道观], a War God Temple (Guandi Miao) [关帝庙], (its main hall contains stone stele with inscriptions), a Confucius Temple (Wen Miao)[文庙], and even a Roman Catholic cathedral (Tianzhu Tang) [天主堂].
Kai Yuan Taoist Temple (Kai Yuan Guan) [开元观] (attractions include stone carvings and on top, a high man-made fortress-like stone terrace (gao tai) [高台]. It has the Hall of Patriarchs (Zushi Dian)[祖师殿]). It is attached to the Jingzhou Museum.
The Guandi Miao temple is located up the road from the South Gate while the Tienu Temple is located off the Jingbei Lu and the Xuan Miao Guan just north of the new North Gate.
The Qu Yuan Ci Temple [屈原祠] is dedicated to Qu Yuan Ci. It served as an important religious center during the Tang Dynasty [唐代] (618-907) when the two remaining Taoist temples were built. The brick city walls were expanded three times during the Song, Ming, and Qing Dynasties. It hosted two emperor’s sons during the first Ming emperor Hongwu [洪武] (1368-1398) , aka Zhu Yuanzhang [朱元璋].
The Taihun Taoist Temple is only 4.5 kilometers from the Jingzhou Historical and Cultural City Area, and is an interesting temple to visit.
You can also tour underground tombs where two Ming prices were buried. Actually, the city has about 800 ancient tombs, including the tombs of 18 Chu kings. For instance, outside the city wall and downtown downtown Zhang Juzheng Road is the tomb of Zhang Juzheng [张居正] (1525–1582), a resident of the city who served as a prime minister to the emperor and referrred to as the most excellent prime minister in China.
People go there to learn history and the many historic features built there.
On the fourth day, you can tour the Jianglng monument court is just 0.2 kilometers away from the Jingzhou Historical and Cultural City Area. Other nearby attractions include the Suining Ancient Village Ruins, the Jiming City and the Wanshou Park where you can sit and relax.
Among the things of interest in the museum includes stone statues of people and animal, wall with a huge ying-yang painted on it.
In the afternoon of the fourth day, take bus number 20 to the Chu Jianan old town, which served as the capital city of the Chu Kingdom during the Spring and Autumn and Warrior States periods (770–476 BC). You pay 20 yuan as the entrance fee.
You can also choose to attend the 'Jingzhou International Dragon Boat Festival' hosted in May/June in memory of Qu Yuan, a famous patriot of Chu State who jumped to his death in the nearby River Miluo. It is one of the Dragon Boat Festivals held around the country and is a major attraction in the area.
It runs 182 km along the Yangzi River and ending to Jianli County (Jianli Xian) [监利县]. From here you can see relics of previous flood control constructions.
The Guanyin Ji [观音矶] is sitted just in front of the Longevity Pagoda, a stone slab dike constructed during the Qiandao era (1165-1173 A.D.) and from where you can have spectacular views of the Yangzi River (Chang Jian)[长江].
The Longevity Pagoda (Wanshou Pagoda) in Shashi City is 40 meters high built on a giant base of rock. The outer side of its walls are decorated with white marble curved with buddha images in 94 shrines. The pagoda walls have a total of more than 90 stone Buddha statues to admire, on the inner and outer side.
Also known as the Wanshou Yuan [万寿园], it is a beautiful garden surrounding the Longevity Pagoda.
There is a courtyard between the entrance and the pagoda, and you can get into it to see the exhibited genuine relics of stone carvings and inscribed stone tablets. The city wall is even visible when you are at this location.
These attractions are all located near the old city wall and you can tour them after a tour to the wall.
The Jingzhou Historical and Cultural City Area has a history of 2000 years. It is reputed as a cradle of the Chu Culture and it served as the Chu State capital during the reign of 20 emperors in the Spring and Autumn Period (770 BC-476 BC) and the Warring State Period (476 BC-220 BC).
It is recognized by the China State Department as one of 24 best famous historical and cultural ancient cities in the country and it attracts many domestic and international travelers due to its importance in China's culture.
During their reign, the 20 emperors left cultural relics that make the area’s culture comparable to ancient Greek and Roman cultures. Although it became a focus of dispute and wars during the Three Kingdom Period (220-589), it served as a political center for China in about 100 days preceding Eastern Jin Dynasty (317-420) in which 11 emperors made it their capital.
Spring and Autumn are the most recommended times for visiting the city region. A lot of rain is experienced in summer while autumn is cool and fine. The winter is dry and cold and at times snowy.
Eating places include the Bayu Renjia located at the East Gate end of Zhangju Zhengjie (just exit the gate and look to the right). People go there for shaokao, chicken at about 38 yuan, bullfrog, tofu, and pig intestine.
Apart from kamaboko (filleted fish), rice pudding, you can also taste Thousand Paper Braised Pork, hickory, green soybeans, mountain vegetables, Sweet and Sour Garlic, and Zhu Oranges in various hotels while in a tour to the Jingzhou Ancient City.
Try out Shalongda Square (Middle of Beijing Road 北京中路) and the Times Square (189 Middle of Beijing Road 北京中路189号) for clothes, shoes, cosmetics, and other daily necessities; silk and satins at the Zhongshan Road Pedestrian Street 中山路步行街; and souvenir at the Zhongshan Road Pedestrian Street 中山路步行街.
Read more about shopping in Jingzhou
Visit the Jiuge Holiday Hotel located about 200 meters from New East Gate and the cost is about 380 yuan. The Bayi Binguan Hotel charges from 70 yuan and is located 200 meters inside of older East Gate.
A Jingzhou custom tour can include visits to all your selected areas in the city. The following can also be customized to include a visit to places like Jingzhou.
Yangtze River Cruises upriver from Yichang take you to Chongqing through the gorges or downstream to Wuhan and Shanghai.
11-Day Majestic Yangtze tour: This popular tour takes you to the Golden Triangle (Beijing, Xi'an, Songhai) and the Three Gorges.